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- News in brief; "TRIAL BY ORDEAL" PLANNED FOR GOVERNMENT OVER HOME OFFICE SNOOPING PLANS
News in brief; "TRIAL BY ORDEAL" PLANNED FOR GOVERNMENT OVER HOME OFFICE SNOOPING PLANS
01 April 2003
Another of the infamous "Scrambling for Safety" public meetings has been organised for May 14 to assess government plans to retain and snoop on the communications and Internet activity of everyone in the UK.
The Home Office caused controversy last summer when it attempted to allow a long list of public authorities to access records of individuals' telephone and Internet usage. This "communications data" -- phone numbers and e-mail addresses contacted, web sites visited, locations of mobile phones, etc. - would have been available without any judicial oversight, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
There has also been ongoing argument about government powers to force telephone companies and Internet Service Providers to keep copies of such communications data. Under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 the Home Secretary may require companies to store this data for long periods to allow later access by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
This is the only such meeting during the consultation period, and is free to attend. It is being organised by Privacy International and the Foundation for Information Policy Research, and is being hosted by the Department of Information Systems of the London School of Economics.
Simon Davies, Director of Privacy International, commented: "The government believes it has an automatic right to snoop on a wide spectrum of very sensitive communications information. The public will doubtless have a different view. The current consultations raise important questions about the right to privacy and the measures that must be taken to protect the individual. The proposals will face a stormy reception at the meeting".
Simon Davies of Privacy International can be reached for comment on 07958 466 552.
The Home Office consultation documents are at:
FIPR's "Surveillance and security" pages
Privacy International's wiretap page
WHAT: An open meeting on the Home Office data retention and access consultations, organised by Privacy International and the Foundation for
Information Policy Research.
WHEN: 1.30 pm - 5.30 pm, Wednesday 14 May 2003.
WHERE: The Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, LSE, Aldwych, London WC2